SACRAMENTO, CA - Pope Benedict XVI's announcement of his resignation saddened many Sacramento Catholics Monday.
The resignation is a rare event. It's been nearly 600 years since it happened last in 1415.
It's a move that caught even members of the clergy off guard.
"I found out by getting a text message from my sister-in-law in Ireland," said Monsignor James Murphy of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento. "I had just gotten up and she had just sent it. I didn't believe her, so I flipped on the radio and there it was!"
For many Catholics attending noon mass at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament Monday, the news was hard to take.
"Well, I'm very saddened by it," said Mike NeSmith. "I thought he was a great pope and a good guy all around, so it's a sad day."
Sarah Garcia, a recent convert to Catholicism, reacted strongly.
"Tears, shocked, but trusting in the Holy Spirit that they will guide the church," Garcia said.
Garcia credits the pope's influence as the reason she recently converted to the Catholic faith.
"He's the only pope I've known," she said. "So yeah, I was just sad. I'm very choked up still just thinking about it."
Murphy says the church's focus will now move to finding a new leader. However, he is hesitant to predict who will be next to lead the world's one billion Catholics.
"[There's] an old saying in Italy: 'He who enters Pope comes out Cardinal,'" he quipped. "The one who goes in the front-runner ends up not getting it."
Whoever is elected, the monsignor is confident that person will be the right man for the job.
"I think it's an exciting time, I think it's a transition," said Murphy. "We're beginning a whole new chapter in the church. It will be exciting to see what they do, who they elect, but as I have said, I do believe the Holy Spirit is in charge."
by Patrick Walker, PWalker@news10.net